Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes-AMG team have launched a joint charitable initiative aimed at improving diversity and inclusion within motorsport.
Ignite will act on the recommendations of the Hamilton Commision, a report investigating the reasons behind the under-representation of black people in the UK motorsport industry.
Funded by a multi-million-dollar pot provided by Hamilton and Mercedes, the charity will focus on education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), helping to develop “more diverse educators” and “providing financial support to talented and motivated students wishing to pursue careers in STEM and motorsport but who don’t have the means”.
Ignite will also work closely with Hamilton’s new personal foundation, Mission 44, to which the 36-year-old British driver has reportedly committed AUD$38 million of his own wealth.
“Mercedes have long supported my ambition to improve diversity and inclusion within the motorsport industry,” said Hamilton. “I’m so thrilled that, through Ignite, we’re able to formally work together to achieve this.
“Diverse workforces aren’t only more successful but are also the morally correct approach for any industry.
“The findings of The Hamilton Commission have provided us a fantastic base to begin our work, and I’m confident that Ignite will result in real, tangible change within motorsport.
“For 15 years, I have remained one of the few black employees within Formula 1, and I’m proud that my work with Mercedes is going to change that for the better.”
Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff said: “I’m delighted today that we can finally talk about our plans for the Ignite initiative. Since we announced our intention with Lewis at the start of the year to create a joint project, a great deal of work and discussion has taken place in the background to refine our aims and our mission.
“Opening up motorsport and becoming a more diverse and inclusive team are fundamental to our team’s values and, with the full support of Mercedes-Benz, we’re committed to making a positive impact on society and building a platform from which future generations can access and enjoy our fantastic sport.
“Ignite will complement our team’s own Accelerate 25 programme, and through these platforms we hope to see much more talent from under-represented groups both join our team and take up careers in the wider motorsport industry.”